A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE

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On the 5th December 2018, I watched part of the funeral service of the 41st president of America : George Bush senior held at the Washington National Cathedral. It was a state funeral : president Trump and the four living former presidents of U.S.A and many other world leaders were in attendance. Bush senior was remembered as America’s last great soldier-statesman. I was struck by what Bush the son,the 43 rd president of U.S.A. talked about his father: “ He was the greatest father that any child would wish to have.’’ He explained away his late father’s humility, love and kindness as virtues born out of his close brush with death. His father survived a serious staphylococcal infection as a teenager and during World War 11 in 1944, as an US. Navy jet fighter pilot, his jet fighter plane was shot down by the Japanese.
“For Dad’s part, I think that his close brush with death made him cherish the gift of life.”
Cherishing life demands that you live your life fully- you wake up every day, grateful, thankful and ready to make the most of the day. You recognize that you have been given a second chance at life; you become determined to want to be more and do more with what you have for yourself and the community you live in. You want to be deserving of this gift since not everyone receives it. You start off by striving to know who you are: your strength and flaws and what is deep in your heart. Over time, you become true to yourself.

This reminded me that I for one had once been granted this rare gift. Twenty years ago, on a rainy day, my two children, a friend and I were involved in a serious car accident. I was the driver and I sustained a nearly fatal injury. I broke two of my lower neck bones. I was in coma for two days and on waking up the orthopedic surgeon explained what had happened to me. The first thing I did was to thank God for the miracle then I moved my toes. Once I realized that I could move them, my healing started there and then. I was extremely thankful and happy to be alive. Two operations on the neck and I was back on my feet.

I had cheated death by a whisker. Confronting my mortality and acknowledging it, I emptied myself of the old-letting go of what no longer served my journey and began to seek for who I was truly. I learned to be honest with myself and others and to be open to receive from others and give to them. I would say that I died to what I was and it allowed me to give birth to what I could be. I found myself in a new world while at the same time taking the trouble to grasp the meaning of my survival. I began to look for the beauty in each person I meet other than focusing on the negative. I accepted that I did not know many things and it opened me up to learn more and gain more wisdom. My main goal in life was to seek purpose and meaning then harmony and balance.

Having recognized that I could lose my life in an instant, I began to value it immensely other than take it for granted and do my best to make the most of it. This has helped me to claim my power and to express it in the world. My values in life changed completely: my faith, my family and friends became the most important things in my life. I had to redefine my relationship with people to live a life with a sense of purpose and meaning. The awakened genuine identity deep within me has made me more imaginative and creative. I do things from the heart and so far I have been creating life and things that emerge out of the truth about who I am. Knowing the truth about myself has taught me to love and respect myself and to go out and love and respect others.
I take an active role in creating a better world- serving and helping others, doing what gives my life meaning.

Looking back, my late father had a similar experience in his early 70s. He looked death in the eyes when he suddenly developed acute renal failure. A man as robust as a Muvule tree found himself lying helplessly in the Intensive Care Unit of the Teaching hospital. For over a month, he hovered between life and death while physicians battled to save his life. Miraculously he survived and thrived and was never the same again.
He accepted his mortality and from that time allowed death to guide him through life other than his ambitions and fears. He had recognized that life and death are two sides of the same coin and to enjoy life fully one had to embrace death. Accepting his mortality lead him to a new life- he took responsibility of the wrongs he had done and began looking for a balanced life where he could have success as well as spiritual development. He made the best use of all the resources available to him- people, time, money and things to create order in his life. Every day, he wore the apron of humility to serve God, people and his community. He considered the two months he had spent in the hospital as the best thing that ever happened in his life; he was empowered to find his uniqueness and mission in life. This enabled him to live out what was his own to do and make the unique contribution to the world.

He had died to his former self to be fully his own best. “It is as if I had died and was given a chance to return to the world,” he was heard saying many times.
Khalil Gibran said: “For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.’’
My father started preparing himself to die with grace by accepting all life’s losses including the death of his son, and disappointments. He died a happy and fully contented man twenty years after the close brush with death. He considered those twenty years as the best years of his life and believed that he could never thank God enough for giving him that 2nd chance at life.

Over the years, I have read numerous stories of survivors: survivors of the gas chambers of 1939-1945, survivors of the world wars, survivors of the Rwanda genocide, survivors of cancers, survivors of aeroplane and deadly train crashes and terrorist attacks. I have talked to my patients who at one time believed were dying only to be revived by the Antiretroviral therapy. They all consider it a miracle to have survived and are ever grateful for having been given a second chance at life. They were all stirred up to strive to achieve their inner potential. They have all gone on to live their lives in such a way as to confirm that the gift of a second chance was so deserved. Little wonder then that George Bush Senior is remembered as a man of great integrity and a loving father who put his family first after his God. He found joy in his faith and family and lived life to the fullest to the end.
As Joel Osteen the great evangelist says: “ I mean we all need a second chance sometimes.’’
And Zig Ziglar said: “ We cannot start over, but we can begin now, and make a new ending.’’
Have you or any of your closest relatives or friends ever experienced a second chance at life?
How did it affect your values and principles in life? How did it change your lifestyle?

Thank you for reading this post. Feel free to share it with family and friends.

 

BOUND TIGHT BY OUR EXPERIENCES

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This photograph was taken at the Equator, 72 kilometres along the Kampala- Masaka road, by one of us during our field trips in 1976. Among this small group are four Ugandans including myself, two Tanzanians including Vale(wearing sun glasses) and one South African.

 

Khalil Gibran, my favourite author once said : “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
My peers and I consider ourselves as part of the traumatised generation of Uganda. We joined the only national university of that time on the 2nd of July 1972 and the then Life President, Genera Idi Amin Dada expelled the Non-Ugandan Asian on the 4th August 1972. On the 17th February 1977, Janani Luwum, the then Anglican Archbishop,Erinayo Oryema, the Inspector General of Police, and Oboth Ofumbi, the Minister of internal affairs were brutally murdered by the regime. A week later we wrote our final examinations for the award of the degree of the Bachelor of Medicine And Bachelor of Surgery. In between these two events there was an explosion of violence that made Kampala and other towns incredibly stressful.

It was not surprising that our Class was the last international one by composition. The majority of us were Ugandans but we had students from Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Malawi. Time never stops so despite the political repression and killings, we developed a sense of safety, became very close and each other’s keeper. We lived our youth: we danced, partied and explored our surroundings, creating cherished memories.
On graduation day, 18th March 1977, we celebrated academic success, perseverance and comradeship. With the world at our feet, we went our separate ways to save lives and make a difference in the world around us.

Two weeks ago I happened to be in Nairobi , Kenya and took the trouble to look up Vale, one of my colleagues from Tanzania. Our surnames are alphabetically positioned close so we were always in the same group: we rotated through all the medical and surgical disciplines together, climbed down the then functional Kilembe Copper mines, under occupational health and visited the leprosy centre in Kumi , northern Uganda. We used to let off steam during the weekends by attending bachelors parties , and dancing the night away in night clubs around Kampala. During those turbulent five years at university, we had become like a brother and sister to each other.
We had not seen each other since graduation but thanks to the Internet and Social media, that continues to make the world increasingly digital. Our Class started connecting in 2016. It made it extremely easy for the two old friends to meet.

I found him waiting for me in the Lavington Café Java, where he had made a reservation for two. I spotted him straight away, a classy dresser; he was wearing a grey suit. He stood up to give me the real bear’s hug usually reserved for a long lost relative. He looked me over appraisingly,“ You have n’t changed much. I could easily pick you out of this Saturday crowd.’’
“ Neither have you. You’ve looked after yourself extremely well,’’ I replied, inspecting him from head to foot.
He looked strong and robust like the Muvule tree back home.
He pulled out a chair for me to sit and helped me through ordering the meal and drinks.He spoke in that familiar gentle tone that made me feel relaxed and secure in his presence just like the old days.
Our profession follows us wherever we go so I was not surprised when he informed me that he was managing one woman in early labour at the Nairobi Private Hospital.
“ That’s one aspect of patient management that the Mobile Phone has made many times easier,’’I said, cutting through the fish fillet.

As we caught up with our lives, the forty one years rolled back, leaving two young fun-loving students in their early twenties.
Our hair was speckled with grey, our faces had grown wrinkles but we were still as free-spirited as before.
He had put on weight and looked the true image of the professor he was. I had lost weight but had made efforts to look my best in a black and white Polka Dot jacket over a black dress.
In the forty one years, he had worked in Kenya, Malawi- where he had been instrumental in setting up the medical school. After twelve years he had returned to Kenya and was now in Private practice. He hoped to retire and return home: Tanzania, in a few years’ time. Fortunately for him, a daughter had followed in his footsteps as a doctor though she specialized in Public health.
Since both of us had lived outside our home countries, we had had to work extra hard to support our children through the formal and university education including the masters degrees.
In those years I had stayed on in Uganda but later followed my husband to Botswana. Our three children had declared at an earlier age that Medicine was not their calling. They hated it for its tight schedule and unpredictable outcomes.

“Since when did you become a pastor?’’ I teased.
He laughed, “No, I’m not. I’m just a good Christian.’’
Since forming our WhatsApp group, Vale without fail starts our day with a spiritual nugget. Sometimes he sends it out as early as 4 am! It carries us through the day.
As we inquired about our colleagues, it was disheartening to learn that we had lost a number of them during the 1990s HIV/AIDS pandemic and a number from natural causes.
“We were n’t the angels in the Class, we’re just too lucky to be alive and well,” I said abruptly.
“I’d also add that we’re also very privileged to be spending some hours together after four decades!”
He paid for the meals and drinks and later dropped me home. Amazingly he was still that perfect gentleman who opened the car door for me and got me safely to my door. For the professional man he was, he drove straight to the hospital to review the patient in labour. He did not know any better.

As I lay in bed, I could not help but ponder on how it had all begun and how we had arrived at this moment in time.
At graduation, we had equal opportunities as young doctors but the fact that we still lived in patriarchal societies controlled our destiny.
Vale as a man had lived his life-climbing the professional ladder to the top, fortunately he kept his family together and friends so he is not isolated. I as a woman who had chosen to have a career have had to juggle medicine and motherhood and being a good wife. I had to follow my husband to Botswana where the career prospects were better. Looking back, I am glad I had had the wisdom to understand that I could not be superwoman- trying to do it all. I slowed down and brought up our three children. We were products of our time: naturally I the woman was the caregiver while my husband was the protector of the family . Societal conditioning had endorsed it.
“How did you escape suffering from burnout and being maimed,” I asked myself.
“ I had the love and support from both families and my children became my friends

Now that I have returned home, I have become too frugal with my time. I’m unashamedly putting myself first: doing what I love and what I enjoy. I have learned to let go and to my amazement, I have found a new identity in retirement. I am claiming the wisdom, freedom and experience that come with age.
To my amusement and amazement, Doris Day’s number 1 hit of the 1950s started playing in my head, loud and clear.
Que Sera , Sera ( whatever will be , will be)
When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother what I will be
Will I be pretty, will I be rich
Here’s what she had to say

Que Sera , Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.
While you are reading this post, I have three questions for you:
Are you able to express your unique gifts in the world?
Are you engaging fully in the world around you ? How has cultural
conditioning and societal pressures limited you?
Remember that you have one life to live and that there is no perfect time or perfect weather so you just do what you have to do.

FINDING YOUR SENSE OF SAFETY

 

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All the standard pre-flight safety demonstrations on board a big airplane take you through the use of an Oxygen mask in an emergency. The safety video clearly instructs the passenger to always fit her /his own mask before helping children, the disabled or any other persons requiring assistance. Simply put, during that limited time, your safety comes first. This cardinal air transport safety rule can be extended to cover our day- to -day living.

As Sonya Parker says: “Put yourself first. You can’t be anything for anybody else unless you take care of yourself.’’

She also tells us: “It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness as a priority. It’s necessary.”

For those of us who read the Bible, the second most important commandment given to us is: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’. But then how can you fulfill this one if you do not know how to love yourself! You cannot give away what you do not have.

So I have learned to love myself first before I love others, find my inner peace before I help others to find theirs, take care of my health before I take care of others and to forgive myself before I forgive others.

This has never rung so true for me as it has done during the first year of my return home after being away for more than two decades. As I try to get assimilated into the radically changed system, I find that so much is going on around me and sucking up my energy and focus. In this interdependent culture, numerous demands are made on me as a daughter, mother, family member, a woman, a professional, a member of my community and a citizen of my country. The chaotic state in my country adds insult to injury.

Time after time, I have had to stop and think about what the interdependent culture and anarchy does to us ; it places heavy burdens on many of us and we end up carrying too much for too long. This alone has dire costs to us.

I never forget that no man is an island. Each of our individual journeys is intimately interwoven with the journeys of our friends, our families, our co-workers. Every step I take in becoming more fully myself has a ripple effect that affects others and the steps they take affect me. So finding genuine meaning in our lives contributes to the renewal of our families and communities.

As I continue to have a deep conversation with myself in this environment I have come to realize that four options available to me:

  • I could choose to feel overwhelmed, paralysed and do nothing until I run out of time.
  • I could choose to take on as much as my shoulders can carry until I burn out.
  • I could choose to disconnect completely by turning away from it all.
  • Last but not least, I could choose to wear my oxygen mask first and then go out to engage in the world around me; effectively doing the small bit that feeds into the big picture.

To work my way through the tangle, I have gladly chosen to take the last option as it allows me to focus eighty percent of my time and energy on the twenty percent that gives meaning to my life. It is the only way I can live out my own deep and great story.

I know for sure that no life, no matter how successful and exciting it might be will make me happy if it is not genuinely my own.

If I chose to disengage completely then I would miss out on my own unique life task that contributes to the making the world a better place to live in. I bear this responsibility out of the legacy of all the heroes who came before me. I have never been the type who waits for things to happen to me; I have made things happen to me.

Maria Edgeware says: “If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.’’

Delmore Schwartz always reminds us that: “Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.’’

Let us fit our oxygen masks first then go out to be of service to others.

Thank you for reading this post. Kindly tap into your experiences and leave a comment about this post. I would be grateful if you shared it with your family and friends.

 

 

 

 

GIVING ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Man is a social animal ; goes about life making relationships. In doing so, he looks for acceptance, appreciation and acknowledgement. Being acknowledged makes people feel good about themselves and makes them want to do more for themselves and others. The super simple way of acknowledgement is usually expressed as ‘ Thank you’, and the highest monetary- tagged acknowledgment known to me is the prestigious, Nobel Prizes established by the Alfred Nobel ,the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite. Nobel Prizes have been awarded annually to men and women who have reached the most outstanding achievement in their respective fields since 1901!
The psychologist tell us children who grow up in homes where they are acknowledged for the good they do,grow up secure , confident and with a strong attitude of gratitude.
Cicero once said: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all other.’’ And the Dalai Lama said: “The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”

On the 19th September, I attended the Funeral Service at St. Francis Chapel Makerere University , Kampala, for one of our finest,accomplished engineer and most practical scientist of our time: Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi. In a church filled to overflowing capacity, speaker after speaker outlined and acknowledged the achievements of this humble genius. It got me thinking about the local proverb which loosely translated says:  ‘Acknowledge me while I am still alive for once I’m dead , I ‘ll never hear your praises and thank you for them.’ I wondered whether all of us gathered there had taken a moment to thank Dr. Musaazi in person for his outstanding achievements! At least his old school which he loved and served selflessly had awarded him its Merit Award for his creativity and innovation.

Like Okwonko, Dr. Musaaazi was a man of few words and could never have asked to be acknowledged. All that he was able to do especially reaching out to the needy in our midst by designing locally appropriate and affordable items like the Makapads, came from the heart. It was born out his appreciation for all those who supported him and enabled him to attend Kings College Buddo, by then considered as a school for royals and the chiefs’ sons and daughters. He never forgot his impoverished roots and that attending that school was the ‘game changer ‘ in his life. It opened up numerous opportunities, choices and new challenges including joining the Makerere University Faculty of Engineering as a student in 1971. He graduated as an Electrical engineer in 1975.
Since that time, in his simplicity, Dr. Musaazi has given to the needy without humiliating them or maiming them ; he empowered them to help themselves while he ensured that he himself never suffered burn out. He remained creative, entrepreneurial and worked very hard.

I for one was lucky to have parents who made me understand that acknowledgement was as essential as food and always brought out the best in each person. I have seen smiles that melted my heart when I said ‘Thank you ‘ to the women who clean toilets at the airports. They felt that they were being recognized that they existed and contributed to the smooth running of those big International airports!
In 1993 as my school celebrated 90 years of existence I wrote a simple poem about the headmistress during my time at the school. I was acknowledging her contribution in molding and shaping us into what we had become. Retired by then in England, she wrote to me thanking me for the appreciation.
I remember her telling me: “Incredibly touched by your poem for no one has ever written a poem about me.” I was touched by her words too!
One Hansa proverb says : “ Give thanks for a little and you’ll find a lot.’’

My late father had received an OBE – Order of the British Empire, from Queen Elizabeth 11 during the Coronation awards of June 1953 for his outstanding work in the Uganda Protectorate. He had gone on to win many other awards in his lifetime.
Amazingly, what he treasured most was his old school’s Award to him in March 1988- The Kings College Buddo Merit Award. During the launching of this award, four outstanding old students were acknowledged for their contribution to the development of Uganda. They were: Dr. Samson Kisekka who was then the Vice President of Uganda, Engineer A.P.N Waliggo who had once been a Prime Minister, Mr. Eridadi Mulira, a veteran politician and my father: Paulo Neil Kavuma. My husband and I accompanied him to this function. We had never seen him as happy as he was that day! Later when he went back to the school to give a lecture about his life and to inform the students of how the school had prepared him for his later role in life, he revealed that he treasured that Award so much because it was a symbol of recognition from his own! He died an incredibly happy man a year later.
William Arthur Ward said: “Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

When it comes to giving acknowledgement, there is no better time than the present.
Last year, my Graduate class: The Class of 1977, organised a reunion in Uganda and among the events was a luncheon with our former lecturers at the University. They attended in big numbers and were all touched when we gave each one of them a Commemorative Plaque acknowledging them and telling them  that we were standing on their shoulders! Their laughter and words of acknowledgement are etched in my memory! It was a simple gesture that left the giver and receiver richer for life.
I am writing this post to encourage each one of us to stop taking people and things for granted but instead develop a habit of noting the good others do and thanking them for it. It builds people up and encourages them to give of their best wherever they are. While doing so, you also strive to give of your best without expecting rewards. We shall then create a better world than we found.

Thank you for reading this post. Kindly share with me your ideas  and experiences about acknowledgement and feel free to share this post with family and friends.

The Gift Of Knowing That You Do Not Know Everything

Arguably no one is perfect and no one can know everything.
Knowledge changes fast and this demands that we keep abreast by being willing to learn every day.
We first learn things from those around us  and then join the formal education in schools, colleges and universities. We also learn about the world around us through what we go through.
Knowledge is not meant to be contained but it should be used to act better: make better informed decisions in life, applied to improve our own lives and other people’s lives. In such situations, then knowledge is truly power. Since new knowledge keeps coming up or old knowledge becomes outmoded, to enhance our understanding of the world around us and improve the quality of our lives; learning should be a lifelong job. When you know you act better and your confidence and self-esteem is boosted. I seek knowledge every day for both personal and professional development.

I find it extremely exciting to be alive and active during this technology –driven 21st century where things change often and very fast too. It demands that I remain an apprentice in how to live a full life, for life if I am to remain relevant and useful. I would be my worst enemy if I took myself to know so much that I do not need to learn anything new.
Socrates , the classical Greek philosopher and one of the founders of western philosophy said: “ True Knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.’’
He also said: “ I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.”
Jim Rohn an Entrepreneur also says that : “ You cannot learn until you know that you do not know and seek for the knowledge.’’
When you know that you do not know, you seek to know. You humble yourself and open up your mind and heart to learn new things. When you learn things and understand then you grow.
There are learning tasks for each stage of our lives.

I have come a long way from the naïve and inexperienced young woman to the sage – searching for the reality behind appearances, decoding clues and solving the underlying riddle of existence. It would not surprise me if soon I started speaking in riddles and parables!
Ken Keyes says: “Everyone and everything around you is your teacher.’’
In my quest for knowledge I have learned from the simple child, the youth, my peers and the elderly around me. I have also been able to learn from the plants, birds and animals around me. I am able to do this only when I open myself up and I am willing to learn. It is the only way to keep abreast of change.
It all starts by accepting that as a human being, I can never know everything. This is the actual gift which frees my mind to learn more. Depending on the situation, I can learn new things, relearn old but relevant things or unlearn outmoded and irrelevant things. The only thing that can limit me is myself.

I can never thank my parents enough for helping me to develop a passion for learning and encouraging me to do things by myself. They opened up a world of wonder for me and I am doing the same for my children and those around me.
Someone somewhere said that anyone who stops learning whatever the age, is as good as dead. I won’t allow this to happen to me; I have declared myself a student for life and would love to recruit you too.

Thank you for reading this post. I would be extremely grateful if you left a comment about it and shared it with family and friends.

The Daredevils Of Our Time

Each time I take to the sky, I find myself thinking and remembering all the pilots, flight engineers and flight attendants known to me; alive or dead. In June I had to travel to London at short notice. It gave me the opportunity to fly by Emirates for the first time. For the two decades I have lived and worked in Botswana, I flew to Europe from Johannesburg by Virgin Atlantic, South Africa Airways and once by Kenya Airways.In the 80s I flew to London most of the time by the then Uganda Airlines. I enjoyed the flights and was well looked after so I only need to step on the plane to jog my memory for the faces and names of all those pilots and the hostesses whom I had come to know well. They include: late Steven Walusimbi, late Sam Kadama, late Adrew Kaggwa, late Sam Mwanje, captain Roy, captain Tamale, captain Kikwabanga, Engineer Jack Alecho and Chief stewardess Serunjogi , and Bakabulinde, Betty Kigguba, Harriet Sentongo, late Grace Achan and many others. They were all true professionals and made us proud to be Ugandans as they flew our National Carrier.

Up to today, I rate the pilot’s capability to take off and land smoothly based on what is locked in my memory. I find myself saying: “You were so good and you enjoyed immensely what you were doing. For you it had ceased to be work and was just fun.” I also remind myself that it was the East African Airways Dakota that carried Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh from Nanyuki, Kenya, to Entebbe to board a BOAC flight to London in February 1952 after the sudden death of King George V1. The Princess was later enthroned as Queen Elizabeth 11 of the United Kingdom on 2nd June 1953.
Many of these dedicated flight crew and cabin crew had initially worked with the East African Airways which was dissolved when the East African Economic Community collapsed in 1977.Thereafter, each of the three states formed its own National Carrier: Uganda Airlines Corporation, Kenya Airways and Air Tanzania.
Uganda Airline Corporation was founded in 1976, became operational in 1977. It was fully owned by the Uganda government. It flourished for some years but by 1995 it had started limping. It finally collapsed and was liquidated in 2001. From the little I know, it failed due to poor management resulting from political interference, chronic lack of capital, increased competition and the loss of experienced staff.

Like the soldiers on the frontline, all those workers in the air transport industry live with the constant risks and hazards of the occupation. Sadly, on October 17th 1988, a Ugandan passenger jet, a Boeing 707, crashed near the Leonardo de Vinci Airport just outside Rome! It had originated from London and was travelling to Entebbe Interanational Airport,Uganda, via Rome. There was fog around the airport. Thirty one of the people aboard died in the crash. Captain Steven Walusimbi was its pilot while Captain Andrew Kaggwa  was the co-pilot. Among the passengers that lived to tell the story was Prince John Patrick Barigye of Ankole. Later as he narrated how he survived the crash, I learned from him to always pay attention to the Safety instructions or video especially about identifying all the Exists on the plane.

I was very privileged to attend Captain Steven Walusimbi’s funeral in Entebbe but sadly missed that of captain Andrew Kaggwa, a great friend of my late brother. Late Kaggwa’s body was whisked off straight for burial in Mubende,western Uganda. I failed to connect with his relatives.
As if that was not enough, I also lost a neighbor at work in the same crash: the late Henry Obonyo from Tororo,eastern Uganda. He was a humble and a decent human being working as the Manager of the Uganda Army shop in Mengo. May God continue to rest all those people in eternal peace.

Fast – Forward to June 2018, the whispers of relaunching a National Carrier for Uganda were confirmed by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, as he read the 2018/2019 Budget. Two Air buses A330-200s have already been ordered and if all goes well, the National Carrier could be operational by the end of the year!
All those who care enough know why the Uganda Airlines Corporation collapsed and that the environment has changed very little.
Edmund Burke said: “In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.”
We all need to learn hard lessons from the past not to repeat it.

In my naivety, I am aware that running an airline is a highly complex and demanding job and at the same time I know that the wisest among us always learn from others’ mistakes and experiences. I hope that by now we have already sent a team to Ethiopia to learn from them. Ethiopian Airlines has now been running for 72 years and is often called The Pride of Africa. It is the prime airline in Africa: flying to 90 destinations, providing excellent air transport services all the time. It surprises many people by its efficiency, continued growth from strength to strength and has been consistently profitable and consistently improving in service standards. It is Africa’s largest carrier. The same team should also bench mark with Kenya Airways which in 2015 and 2016 made substantial losses but since then has struggled to improve as by the end of 2017. South African Airways is still struggling to raise its head.

Those of us who believe in the principle of Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for Greatest Number would have preferred to see the limited resources used to improve the ailing health care system, education system and agriculture sector which supports over 70 percent of the population.
Colin Powell, an American statesman, retired four-star general in the US army and 65th US Secretary of State said: “A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.’’
Coach Bridget Burns said: “If you think you know everything, there’s nothing else to learn until you learn….. you do n’t know everything.”
As for the original flight crews and cabin crews of the defunct Uganda Airlines Corporation, I take off my hat to you. Your service record remains a source of pride and joy to us. I still call you the daredevils of our time: avid air enthusiasts, organized, dedicated and with great concern for the safety of your passengers and machines. You were among the best of your time so I had to share you with the world. I have no doubt that during this technology –driven era, you would be even better.

Thank you for visiting my blog and reading this post. I am interested in learning about your experiences with air transport. I would be grateful if you commented on this post and shared it with family and friends.

AFRICA’S CITIZEN OF THE WORLD.

The Internet and newspapers are awash with glowing tributes to the former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan . I for one will always remember and thank him for having inspired the youth especially those from the Developing countries to understand and appreciate that everything is possible if you believe in yourself and are prepared to work hard. Kofi Annan was the seventh UN Secretary General but the first African south of the Sahara to head this prestigious Organisation. He replaced Boutros Boutros Ghali of Egypt in 1997.
This trail blazer was born in an aristocratic family in Kumasi Ghana, studied in USA and Switzerland was then recruited as a budget officer in the World Health Organisation in 1962.

He rose through the ranks to become the Secretary General of the UN and served in this capacity for two terms. He considered it a great honour to serve the world from 1997 to 2006. He was considered as an international diplomat, a citizen of the world but referred to himself as ‘ a stubborn optimist’.
He served during a period that had numerous challenges among them the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the September 11 attacks, the war in Iraq, all demanding for critical solutions .
He and his team at the UN worked hard to create a more equal and peaceful world. He shared the 2001 Nobel Peace award with the UN Organisation.
He was in the Peacekeeping Operations during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. After the UN had pulled out its peace keepers, over 800,000 people were brutally murdered. This unfortunate tragedy weighed on his conscience for the rest of his life.
All in all, he was up to the task and made us feel extremely proud to be African. Many young Africans were empowered and wanted to be like him. Role models like him, instantly accomplish what laws and policies on paper take years to achieve. The UN itself has been struggling to meet the 30% quota for women employment in the UN for the last thirty years! Available records show that the closest it has ever come to it was in 2012 with 24% of women at senior management level.

As a medical doctor, I cannot thank him enough for having set up the HIV/AIDS Global Fund. Through it , poor countries like mine were able offer Treatment and run better Prevention Programmes for its people. His team also set up the proposals for the Millennium Development Goals in the eight key areas of poverty, education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, the environment and global partnership. These time bound targets were commissioned by the UN Secretary General in 2002.
The Millennium Development Goals (2005-2015) were set up to alleviate extreme poverty in the world. They impacted the African continent and triggered some beneficial changes that improved ordinary people’s lives.
As an East African, I remember him and thank him for his mediation between the two parties of the conflict after the 2007/2008 post –election violence in Kenya. It could have erupted into something more sinister for the whole region.

While researching for material for this post , I learned that Kofi Annan was a great athlete at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. It got me thinking that after the firm foundation at home in Ghana, he developed the characteristics of all great athletes namely: drive, discipline, competitiveness, self-confidence, aggressiveness, commitment, determination, adaptability and good time management. He must have brought these characteristics to the UN job and they helped him serve with honour.
Among the many tributes was that of Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland. She had worked with him earlier on at the UN and later on they were both members of the Elders an international Organisation founded by the late Nelson Mandela to promote peace and human rights in the world. She described Kofi Annan as a gentle gentleman who was committed to creating a more peaceful world.
Last July, they were together in South Africa to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s centenary. Though Kofi Annan was unwell and had been advised to go back to Switzerland for treatment, they proceeded to Zimbabwe a few days before the July 30th general elections. He was being driven by his relentless pursuit for peace and justice.
To the shock of many, shortly after, he breathed his last in Switzerland on 18th August 2018.

Ghana declared one week’s mourning for this great son of Africa. We are the poorer without him but at the same time we remember with pride all that he was able to achieve for mankind. His life’s work will live on forever. We take off our hats to him and bow our heads in great respect and admiration of him.
Christine Gregoire , an American politician and lawyer said: “ Education can lift individuals out of poverty and into rewarding careers.’’
She also said that, “ It’s our responsibility to pass on what we inherited , not to squander it, but to build on it.’’
Kofi Atta Annan will live on in his children, all that he created with a lot of commitment and devotion and the Kofi Annan Foundation.
I owe it to him to ask myself every day : “What am I doing to make my community, country live better than I found it?”

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